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Toddler shooting victim scheduled for surgery

Three-year-old Ariel Salaices is going through physical, orthopedic, and speech therapy after she was struck in the head by a stray bullet while playing in her backyard. Submitted photo.


By Meg Dickens

On March 15, 2019, Ariel Salaices, 3, of Laurel Bloomery, was struck in the back, righthand side of her head by a stray bullet while playing in her backyard.
The shot sent Ariel flying off the slide only to collapse after a few steps.
According to local authorities at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, the bullet was from a pellet gun that was shot by an undisclosed child. The bullet severed an artery, which caused a stroke
and loss of brain function on that side.
Ariel is currently going through physical, orthopedic, and speech therapy in Johnson City, TN. Back in July, she spent approximately a month in Georgia doing extensive therapy every day. Her mother, Christina Salaices, is a former home health professional and believes that Ariel will need therapy for the rest of her life.
“Ariel’s life has changed dramatically,” said Christina. “She’s definitely no longer able to do a lot of the things she used to do. We’ve made the needed adjustments.”
Ariel has three other siblings: Destany 14, Evan 12, and Ethan 6. The family has strived to maintain normal routines for the children. Not much has changed with Ariel’s siblings, except they occasionally lend a hand such a pushing her wheelchair. On a good day, Ariel likes to yell and is extremely active. On a bad day, she is fussy and inconsolable.
Ariel is scheduled for a cranioplasty procedure at East TN Children’s Hospital on November 20. In this procedure, surgeons repair bone defects in the skull. The surgeons designated Ariel’s procedure as a custom bone flap placement. She currently wears a helmet to protect her skull.
Christina wants to thank the public for its support. The family is still using funds from their Go Fund Me fundraiser to help with medical expenses. The public donated nearly $60,000. Keep up to date on Ariel’s progress on Facebook @Arielsjourney2019.